Home Letter To The Editor Iron Horse Trail Blazers… Two-Wheel Danger?

Iron Horse Trail Blazers… Two-Wheel Danger?



Over the past six months, road bike usage of the Iron Horse Trail has become a very dangerous situation.

First, these bikes are traveling well-above the speed limit on the trail at 15 miles per hour and not stopping at road crossing with posted stop signs. The result is near-misses with approaching vehicles that will very soon result in a major accident likely severely injuring the biker(s).

Second, for those walking on the trail there is no call-out of passing at high speeds and those walking have been hit by passing bicyclists.

It seems Beverly Lane and East Bay Regional Park Directors have no answers (blane@ebparks.org) and volunteer patrols are not equipped to catch these bikers. We are very careful crossing the trail but bikers simply disregard their own safety and risk their lives.

How do your Iron Horse readers feel about this issue?

Harald Paul Arthur Balle
Cervato neighborhood

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  1. We all need to be doing a better job of watching out for each other. Bicyclists are not immune from this.

  2. I’ve voiced my opinion about bikers before. Most of the bikers I’ve seen ignore all traffic laws, speed, are rude and hog the trails and roads. One even ran OVER my miniature poodle who was on a leash by my side, barely missing me. I mean, thump, thump, kerplunk over his little body. He got up and was so terrified he ran like wild fire (my dog, not the biker) because the force of the bike hitting him stripped the leash out of my hand and left me with a nice rope burn. Fortunately, he was hurt, other than being sore. AND I hate driving anywhere around here (especially on weekends) because the bikers are like an infestation making it very scary to be on the roads. I wish there was an entire road/trail system just for them – but, they’d probably choose to disobey that rule, too, and get back on the roads to terrify and frustrate all the rest of us. ‘Nuff said – I think you get my point.

  3. I am not sure when the transition from weekend pedaler to workday road warrior was made but I have definitely seen a difference in attitude among people I would normally assume to be well educated and reasonable. The trails are like a riders personal Tour du France and pedestrians are OFTEN used as race markers. I have seen elderly people knocked to the ground and others startled by close calls with road racing cyclers who do not call out. We have bikes and we ride and we like it but something has happened and it is not good.

  4. I’m a weekend cyclist. I avoid the trail like the plague not because I like to go fast but because people with small dogs pose a far greater danger to me than cars on the road. Conversely I think I’m a danger to little kids trying to learn to ride/skate on the trail, no matter how careful I try to be. So I chance it and stick to the roads with bike lanes, almost exclusively. I generally find car drivers very polite around the areas I ride. I try to be predictable to make it easy for them. I’m a driver too after all.

  5. Good topic. Good Letter! It is apparent from reading the comments on the facebook side of this that there are some people who are apparently riders and who feel they are in the right ALL THE TIME. The fellow who called hikers “assholes” was especially amusing. There definitely seems to be some odd chemistry at work on our public fields and trails.

    I would guess it is because they are getting more crowded. And yes, I have been knocked down on the Iron Horse – twice. And I wasn’t walking a dog, wearing headphones, or with kids. I now walk with a walking stick. I don’t need one but I intend to use it on the next person who knocks me down. I guess that makes me an asshole hiker.

  6. I’ve been walking and biking the Iron Horse for many years and, maybe because I’ve been buzzed by far too many cyclists, when I bike I slow down, ring a bell, and call out well before I pass anyone. I seem to be in the minority. Some cyclists seem to think it’s acceptable to call out “on your left” when they’re already on your left shoulder. Very few ring a bell and even fewer slow down. I’ve complained to EBRPD several times and asked for more enforcement. Last September EBRPD Police Captain Mark Ruppenthal told me due to staffing shortages there were no officers to patrol the trail. He said he was hopeful that would change. Judging from what I and obviously many others have experienced it hasn’t. What good is a mixed-use trail if a whole class of users is afraid to use it?

  7. The problem is not limited to the Iron Horse Trail of course, as others have pointed out. And I agree the problem is at least magnified due to our relative lack of recreational space and the increased demand of users. There are simply too many people for the trails – especially on the weekends.

  8. I have been walking the Iron Horse Trail for many years. For the last two years my wife and I have picked up the litter on the trail just after the New Year for the entire 26-mile length from Martinez to (now) Pleasanton. We also cleaned over 40 miles of other paved trails in Contra Costa and Alameda County and have no significant problems with bikers on those paved trails.
    I understand the concern that some bikers don’t obey rules; the same people don’t obey pedestrian and driver rules. I also know that some people in Alamo don’t like having the Iron Horse Trail going through their neighborhood.
    Having been on the trail for so many years, I want to cast a vote that things are not getting worse but better.
    Also, to Marybeth, we have an amazing number of recreational opportunities compared to the rest of California and the USA. It just takes a tiny bit of effort to find out.

  9. @Mr. Brittain – As a dedicated trailwalker I would like to express my gratitude for your civic goodheartedness to other users of this treasured public space. I was raised believing that stewardship of our lands is critical to our collective futures and adhere to your methods. I wish more people would too.

  10. I couldn’t help but read a few of the comments here and think of the recent confrontation between cricketers and baseball people angry with each other over use of their pitch. There are a lot of us out there particularly on weekends and space can be at a premium. There have been some outwardly semi-comical confrontations in San Francisco over use of soccer fields or tennis courts and now there seems to be competition building for right of way on our trails and roads – sometimes with tragic consequences.

    I was very sorry to hear about the firefighter in Folsom and pray he recovers. And I’m hoping we find our way to the courteous sharing of these spaces I know we’re capable of.

  11. Wow. You seem to have struck a nerve. Those facebook comments illustrate the point IMO. Some of these people appear willing to run us down without a second thought.

  12. Good letter.

    I agree with Mister Hannafin and Queirolo and appreciate Mr. Brittain’s civic mindedness. A few dozen more like him would be nice. And while I am wholeheartedly opposed to violence of any sort I like Ms. Simm’s spirit. Let’s just all take it easy next weekend, have a good time, and appreciate the fact we live in an area LOTS of people would like to call home.

  13. My 89yo dad walks the trail almost every day. It’s his “quiet time” and he usually walks alone, on the far right and out of everyone’s way. He has been knocked down twice and the last time fractured his wrist when he landed and tried to break his fall. The cycler did stop and help in that case but no apology was offered. A lot of older people walk the trail and yes some are hard of hearing as one cycler said but a group willing to run down our old and infirm because the cycler want to go fast will not get my support. And worse, you’ve got my dad mad at you now. We want to think there’s room for everyone on the Iron Horse, but it seems to me really fast biking should be on Danville Blvd and not the trail.

  14. I like the poster who walks with a spoke jammer – but hope it doesn’t come to that. It is plain to see that there is a problem and just as plain to see that due to the nature of the issue there is no magic bullet of a solution. And I don’t think any government body is going to be able to cure this. You can’t fix rude – just as you can’t fix stupid.

  15. Dear JD,

    With neighbors and their cameras focused on the Trail from Rudgear to Danville, road bike groups are disappearing from the Iron Horse Trail. It seems the call-ahead strategy that is creating multiple videos along the trail has created notice to road bikers that they are being documented for the speed, violation of stop signs and dangers to walkers along the trail. Instead of just whizzing past, they are being video’d face on every other crossing along the trail and now see the probability of police being in position due to call-ahead safety monitoring.

    I have asked that such video to be shared with you.


    • Howdy, Hal… quite a response to this post. It continues to resonate as the issue does not appear confined to the Iron Horse.

      We’ll be watching, and any forwarded videos presented for readership viewing and discussion.

      Travel safely!

  16. Most dangerous of all, is a man that sits inside of what looks like a yellow rocket. He goes extremely fast (beyond what I’ve seen the fastest cyclist do) and has zero regard for walkers. If he hits someone, they definitely could die. Seen him? I’ve never seen anything like this prior.

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